Going Off Topic (#21) Thanks, Disney

So the UK finally has a release date for Disney+. It’s 31st March 2020. Aca-scuse me? The END OF MARCH? The entire world will have watched The Mandalorian by that time. Thanks Disney, I’ll be resorting to finding other ways to watching your newest show and come April I’ll still probably end up signing up anyway. Sigh. People on Twitter are complaining that they have to watch MCU shows to fully understand the new movies whilst the UK is sat here wishing they actually could.

Moving swiftly on, welcome to the run-up to Christmas, AKA Adam Driver season! The Report comes out on 15th November, Marriage Story is released on 6th December, and of course Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on 19th December. Us getting that one day early is the only reason I’m not raging about Disney+ to tell the truth.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been a little more active around here this week, which is a habit I’m hoping to continue. It helps that there’s a ton of good movies on the horizon, awards season around the corner, and the end of year lists to make that are so much fun. Somewhere in between all of this is Christmas, too!

On Friday I posted my Blind Spot review for Chicago (2002) which you can read here if you missed it. It’s the first Blind Spot review I’ve posted since June, because it’s the first Blind Spot movie I’ve seen since then. The problem is, in December last year when I wrote the list, my July choice was American Beauty (1999), before the Kevin Spacey thing came to light. I don’t know what to do with it now. Do I still want to watch it? If I do, can I review it? Do I address the elephant in the room or ignore it? I try to stay light-hearted on the blog so it’s a tough one.

I’m more inclined to swap it out for a different movie for now and decide what to do later. I’ve tried to complete the Blind Spot Series challenge on 4 different occasions now and I mean to complete it this year. One movie I’ve had on my watch list for a while now is Black Swan (2010). Do you reckon that’s Blind Spot enough, or too recent?

Blind Spot Series: Chicago (2002)

chicago-movie-review-poster-2002Director: Rob Marshall

Genre: Musical, Drama, Crime

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, Christine Baranski, John C. Reilly, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, Chita Rivera

Plot: Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly find themselves on death row after committing murder. Roxie is the newcomer and desperately tries to get into Velma’s good books, until she finds herself in the spotlight of attorney Billy Flynn.

My Thoughts: YES. So much yes for this movie! When I watched La La Land I was hooked from that opening song and the same thing happened to me with Chicago. Why have I avoided musicals for so long when I grew up on the Disney classics? I guess sometimes it can be a little cringy to just suddenly burst into song during a serious moment, but the musical numbers in Chicago don’t work that way, instead, they’re stand-alone performances that tie in with whatever is currently happening, which is super effective.

Renée Zellweger is fantastic in this, starting out as a meek young girl dreaming of fame and naive to her surroundings, to quickly rising to fame and knowing how to make a stand for herself. Catherine Zeta-Jones is equally as stunning to watch, and Queen Latifah has her own raunchy number which I loved. Literally, I am struggling to form actual sentences here, because I enjoyed it so much. I guess in a way, none of these characters are likable, but they’re so much fun to watch.

I guess the only thing that stops me from giving Chicago full marks is that a lot of the songs, whilst fun at the time, aren’t catchy enough to stick in my memory. I can sing (badly) perhaps 5 to you from memory but there were so many more! Who knows, maybe a few plays of the soundtrack on my way to work will fix that for me.

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Best Bit: Cell Block Tango. It was the only song I’d actually heard of before watching it and oh boy it did not disappoint. Even my husband at one point turned around from his computer screen to sing ‘HE HAD IT COMING’. Song wise, that was my favourite, but We Both Reached For The Gun was visually the best, with the way that Roxie was a puppet and the media were all on strings. It was so clever.

Worst Bit: I’m equal parts gutted for and annoyed by Roxie’s husband. On one part, I just feel desperately sorry for him, he loved Roxie with every ounce of his being and she couldn’t care less. On the other hand, how bloody naive could he be? I wanted to shake him, and then hug him.

Fun Trivia: In the beginning of the scene introducing Mama Morton to the new inmates, Roxie Hart had a brief conversation with a woman smoking a cigarette. That character was played by long-time Broadway actress Chita Rivera who portrayed Velma Kelly in the original 1975 production of “Chicago”.

My Rating: 4 and a half tap dancing shoes which took Richard Gere 3 months to master the use of, according to IMDB!

chicago-richard-gere-tap-dancing

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Blind Spot Series: Gladiator (2000)

gladiator-2000-movie-review-blind-spot-seriesDirector: Ridley Scott

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

Runtime: 155 Minutes

Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, David Schofield, John Shrapnel, Tomas Arana

Plot: Maximus was a strong and loved Roman general, so much so that the aging Emperor Marcus Aurelius chooses him to be his heir over his own son, Commodus. A power struggle breaks out and Maximus’ family are slaughtered, leaving Maximus himself captured and put into the Gladiator games. Now fuelled by vengeance, Maximus sets his sights on rising up the ranks and avenge his wife and son.

My Thoughts: My timing couldn’t be more perfect with my Blind Spot choices lately. I’d chosen The Matrix as my choice last month right when a Keanu Reeves obsession hit, and I was over the moon to realise my June pick was Gladiator when I’ve been spending as much time as possible playing Assassins Creed: Odyssey. One thing I hadn’t realised was how long the movie was, IMDB says it’s just over 2 and a half hours but I think I had some kind of special edition because my copy was just a few minutes shy of 3 hours! Why are all these famously amazing movies so darn long?!

Anyway, I’ll get straight to the point. I did enjoy Gladiator, in fact, I got really into it for the last hour or so, but it took me a long while to actually get invested. Call me uncultured (I wouldn’t argue with you) but Maximus’ story was just so similar to Spartacus’, and that’s a story I know in great detail thanks to the Starz! TV Show, which I know came later but cut me some slack.

Once I’d convinced myself to empty my thoughts and just enjoy the movie for what it was, I had a blast. I loved how Maximus managed to get the other gladiators to work together as one unit, and his rivalry with Commodus was intense. I also now know where the line “Are you not entertained?!”. I think where similar movies go all in for the action and choreographed fight scenes, Gladiator delivers some of the best dialogue I’ve heard in a movie. You can sense when someone’s about to dish out a killer speech, and those are the best moments.

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Best Bit: The scene where Commodus is praising this ‘Gladiator’ and asks him his name will be the moment that I always remember the movie for. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

Worst Bit: I get that the focus of the movie is the hatred between Maximus and Commodus, but with such a long runtime I would have liked some of the side characters to have got a little more limelight.

Fun Trivia: The wounds on Russell Crowe’s face after the opening battle scene are real, caused when his horse startled and backed him into tree branches. The stitches in his cheek are clearly visible when he is telling Commodus he intends to return home.

My Rating: In true gladiator games style, I give it 4 thumbs up!

gladiator-2000-russell-crowe-thumbs-up-live

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Blind Spot Series: The Matrix (1999)

the-matrix-1999-blind-spot-movie-reviewDirector: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong, Julian Arahanga, Matt Doran, Belinda McClory

Plot: Set in the future, Neo learns about the true nature of his reality and his role in fighting the war against its controllers.

My Thoughts: This month’s Blind Spot pick couldn’t have been more perfect, I’m about to see John Wick: Chapter 3 again because I loved it so much and I can feel a Keanu Reeves obsession coming on. The Matrix has been the movie so many friends and family mention to me and they can’t believe I’ve never seen it. Honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t either but it’s so famous I guess I thought I knew all about it and there wasn’t any point. Neo’s the one, everyone can run up walls, none of us are real, etc, etc. I was only partly right, I guess.

So us humans are real, but the world we know and live in is actually just a simulation, that’s the gist. It’s an absolutely crazy idea, and I spent a lot of the movie questioning things and expecting to find gaping plot holes, but it’s absolutely solid, which shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did because there’s obviously a reason The Matrix is such a widely-loved movie.

The action and fight scenes are really cool, and I bet they were exhilarating in 1999 but they don’t shine as much 20 years later. That said, I’m comparing it to John Wick’s fight scenes which were a step above all other action movies anyway! I mean let’s face it, from a technical point of view, no Sci-Fi movie 20 years old is going to stand up as well in the current year, but it doesn’t distract from the story at all.

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I honestly enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would, and now I’m curious – what are the other movies like? From what I hear they aren’t good but I don’t care about ‘critic’ opinions, I trust you guys. My husband says his biggest unpopular opinion is that the third movie is his favourite of the franchise!

Best Bit: GUNS. LOTS OF GUNS. I knew it was coming, but it was so funny when it actually happened. Apologies to everyone else seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 tonight because I might just scream ‘YEEEEAAAAAAAH’ when that moment happens again.

Worst Bit: I know it’s unfair but it’s like I said, it hasn’t aged well. Although I do miss those flip phones. When you were having an argument on the phone it was so satisfying to snap the phone shut to hang up, and you don’t get the same effect with these touch screens…

Fun Trivia: After the lobby shoot-out, the camera pans back, showing the aftermath of the gunfight in the lobby. During this, a piece of one of the pillars falls off. This happened by coincidence during the filming, and was not planned, but was left, since it seemed appropriate.

My Rating: 4 red pills, although I personally might have taken the blue pill and lived in ignorant bliss!

the-matrix-1999-red-pill-blue-bill

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Blind Spot Series: Heat (1995)

heat-movie-review-1995-blind-spotDirector: Michael Mann

Genre: Crime, Drama, Action

Runtime: 170 Minutes

Main Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan

Plot: Neil McCauley and his group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from the police when they leave a clue behind at their latest heist.

My Thoughts: You can’t win them all, and not even the greatest of movies will appeal to everyone. I think I’ve found a very specific genre that I just don’t enjoy at all, cat and mouse, robbers and police movies. I’ve got nothing against crime movies as a whole, in fact, I love watching heists and I love seeing a detective’s case unfold, but none of what happened in the nearly 3 hours of the movie Heat appealed to me.

I just don’t care about any of these characters. 170 minutes long and not enough time to let me build up any kind of sympathy? The only character I really liked was Natalie Portman’s – and oh my goodness how young is she here?! I’m so old. My biggest problem with it is probably the reason it’s so loved. It’s too much like The Departed, and yes I know that one is more recent. But I couldn’t stand The Departed. The whole thing seemed so pointless to me and it was just dull.

Here’s the thing, someone in your gang of robbers is probably going to turn against you. Maybe they’re into some shadier business than you’re already aware. Everyone is moody, has a troubled relationship at home. At the end of the movie, half of the cast is dead and they were terrible people anyway so you don’t even care! Sorry – I’m just ranting now. I know Heat is a well-loved movie. There are parts that I can appreciate, but at the end of the day, it’s just not my thing.

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Best Bit: Robert De Niro’s character says something about not getting attached to anyone or anything that you can’t leave behind in 30 seconds if it all goes south, and when this actually happens to him towards the end of the movie it was a pretty cool moment. Probably the only time I actually felt any emotion whilst watching the movie but it was really memorable.

Worst Bit: The restaurant scene with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino had me rolling my eyes. You guys are making each other’s lives miserable but you’ll have a happy chat over a coffee and talk about respect and what not? Ugh, please!

Fun Trivia: In the director’s commentary, Michael Mann noted that Al Pacino ad-libbed the line “Because she’s got a GREAT ASS!” and Hank Azaria’s look of exasperated shock was totally genuine.

My Rating: 2 full-size bags of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs that I ate whilst watching this movie over the space of 3 days…I am a disgusting human being.

heat-1995-movie-review-mini-eggs

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Blind Spot Series: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

saving-private-ryan-1998-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Steven Spielberg

Genre: Drama, War

Runtime: 169 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti

Plot: Set during World War II,  Captain Miller and his assembled crew are sent to find Private James Ryan and send him home. His 3 brothers have been killed in action and all 3 telegraphs are set to be sent on the same day to his Mother to inform her of the terrible news. To alleviate her grief the Chief of Staff decides that Ryan should be pulled from the war.

My Thoughts: War movies have never interested me, but in my recent quest to watch all Oscar Best Picture nominees when awards season rolls around, I found myself at the cinema to watch Hacksaw Ridge (2016) which exceeded all my expectations. I don’t think anyone can talk about war movies without at least thinking about Saving Private Ryan (1998) so the Blind Spot Series was a great opportunity to watch the classic and expand my horizons a little.

Straight away you’re hit with a wall of emotion. We see a survivor of the war in his old age, although we don’t know who, as he visits the graves of his brothers, and then we’re transported straight into one of the battles. It’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s tense and uncomfortable to watch, and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away. We’re literally in the thick of it with these soldiers, and we’re in it for the long haul.

At just under 3 hours this is one of the longest movies I’ve watched, and so I made the decision to watch it in two sittings but to be honest, I could have happily watched it in one go, you don’t notice the time at all. There’s always something going on, and even in the quieter moments you know it’s just a build up to the next big thing.

saving-private-ryan-tom-hanks-blind-spot

Best Bit: I’ve always associated Giovanni Ribisi with the TV Show Friends, so much so that I can never remember his actual name, I call him Frank Jr. I know him from small, comedic roles so it was a surprise to see him here. He was AMAZING. The guy has some really incredible talent, and I can’t believe it’s the only serious role I’ve ever seen him in. He deserved award nominations for it, without a doubt.

Worst Bit: There’s no denying that Saving Private Ryan is an incredible movie. I’m not a converted war movie fan, though. Watching this, watching Hacksaw Ridge, watching Dunkirk (2017), they were amazing experiences, but to me, they aren’t ‘enjoyable’ in the same sense as other genres, if that makes any sense?

Fun Trivia: Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Private Ryan because he wanted an unknown actor with an All-American look. He did not know Damon would win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997) and become an overnight star before the film was released.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 pairs of standard-issue socks that you can turn into sticky bombs if needed.

saving-private-ryan-socks-sticky-bombs

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Blind Spot Series: Rear Window (1954)

rear-window-movie-poster-1954-blind-spotDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Runtime: 112 Minutes

Main Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr, Judith Evelyn

Plot: After an accident leaves him wheelchair-bound with a broken leg in the middle of summer, Jeff finds himself with nothing better to do than to sit by his rear window, watching his neighbors go about their lives. He becomes suspicious one night that one of them might actually be a murderer.

My Thoughts: Rear Window is shockingly only my second Hitchcock movie, it was common sense to include at least one Hitchcock flick in my Blind Spot list this year! I knew the basic plot and the fact that Disturbia (2007) was based on it, but that was about it. After watching it, I feel quite conflicted. There are so many details about this movie that I love – but the story wasn’t that thrilling to me.

My favourite thing about the movie was the 3 lead characters. Poor Jeff in his wheelchair, suffering. His maid/nurse from the insurance company, providing the best advice and witty one-liners. His gorgeous girlfriend, wanting nothing but Jeff’s happiness whilst he pushes her away. You could give me any kind of plot and I would have absolute blast just watching these 3 characters interact with each other!

So I guess that leads me to the story itself. A day after watching, I can appreciate it’s simplicity – I think some modern movies have so much plot crammed into 2 hours that it’s a mess, but I was just left wanting more. It took almost a third of the runtime before anything really happened, and for me at least, there was never any question about what had transpired. The final act was thrilling though, I’ll definitely admit that.

rear-window-1954-james-stewart-grace-kelly

Best Bit: The moment that Lisa suddenly changes her mind from ‘Jeff, you’re being crazy’ to ‘Oh my God Jeff your neighbour is a murderer’ was so funny – that’s exactly how fast I can change my mind sometimes. Either that bit or right at the end where we see Jeff sat back at his window again…poor guy!

Worst Bit: There’s so specific moment but that detective was a right nasty piece of work. I honestly thought at one point that he was being deliberately unhelpful because he was in on the murder!

Fun Trivia: According to Georgine Darcy, the scene in which the man and woman on the fire escape struggle in their attempt to get in out of the rain can be attributed to a prank by Sir Alfred Hitchcock. Each actor and actress in the apartment complex facing Jeff’s rear window wore an earpiece through which they could receive Hitchcock’s directions. Hitchcock told the man to pull the mattress in one direction and told the woman to pull in the opposite direction. Unaware that they had received conflicting directions, the couple began to fight and struggle to get the mattress inside once the crew began filming the scene. The resulting mayhem in which one of them is tossed inside the window with the mattress provided humor and a sense of authenticity to the scene which Hitchcock liked. He was so pleased with the result, that he did not order another take.

My Rating: 3 and a half baskets, which can be used to transport your cute little dog up to your third-floor apartment. And give others a heart attack worrying about whether the dog is going to jump/fall out!

rear-window-dog-in-basket-1954

blind-spot-series-2019-bannerThe Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.